Okay, now we can start talking about the NIT.
Texas fixed their defensive lapses from the TCU game, but also left their shooting in Fort Worth. It would’ve been nice to borrow a couple of those threes, as Texas shot 36% on the night and under 20% from three. They played good enough defense to hold Baylor to well below their normal shooting percentages, but at the end of the night it wasn’t enough. Texas is faltering and Baylor is surging, and one team is happy to be on the bubble while the other is falling to the wrong side of that bubble. I said on Pretend We’re Football that the only game out of the Kansas State - TCU - Baylor game that was a cause for concern for me if Texas lost was the Baylor game. Well, they lost it, and I’m concerned. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a couch to punch.
Terry Maston aside, Texas shut Baylor down for large portions of the game. The rest of the Baylor squad shot 19-51 (37.2%) and most of those 19 makes were hard-earned. How many of Manu Lecomte’s five made shots were off-balance last-second heaves that hit the mark? Baylor made 31 buckets in 50 minutes and a third of them felt like lucky bounces.
Bamba put up a 16/16 with 4 blocks against one of the few teams able to guard his length, and he would’ve put up more if the guards had attacked the zone better (we’ll get to this) to open up his chances for putbacks and lobs. He was about three inches away from blocking the Baylor miss that ended in a Jo Lual-Acuil putback for the win, too. And if ANYBODY BEHIND HIM BLOCKED OUT it wouldn’t have mattered that he missed. Bamba has near-zero percent responsibility for this loss.
Kerwin Roach II
Roach going 0-5 from three would normally put him into the mixed bag category, but I’m handing out a mulligan because he was the only guard to reliably attack the zone by driving tonight and he played good defense. He also hit some monstrously large free throws despite Scott Drew — a man who is best described as what happens when Propecia was still in beta testing — trying to ice him with a timeout between free throws. Speaking of...
Free Throw Shooting
18-22 for 81.8%, including a number of high-stakes makes from several people not named Davis. Texas shot poorly from the field, but not from the line.
The Mixed Bag
So here’s what I like about Matt’s game: he played decent defense, he hit some clutch free throws — he hasn’t missed a free throw since those fateful three against Texas Tech — and he only had one turnover despite being the primary ball-handler for most of his 45 minutes on the court. Here’s what I don’t like about Matt’s game: the lack of aggression. For nearly all of regulation he repeatedly failed to probe the zone defense. I lost count of how many times he received a pass and stood there, waiting for a screen to present itself. I get that there are plays where there isn’t a crease to exploit, but he was too passive too often and it resulted in poor offensive possessions.
It says something that Baylor shot 4-15 (26.7%) and nobody in the telecast even mentioned it. Texas was 3-19 (15.8%), or if you want to look at it positively they were 2 of their last 6? Some shots were bad shots, some just didn’t fall, but in the end not enough of them found the net.
Attacking the Zone
I know this team knows how to attack a zone, I’ve seen them do it before. Tonight, they didn’t do it reliably and it cost them a win.
Eric Davis Jr
Look, I know it’s not easy to block out on a guy like Acuil, but it’s also incumbent upon Davis to know that Bamba is going to contest the final shot and help over. You can’t block out on a player you’re behind, man. Davis was not great tonight on either end of the floor, and those two missed free throws on the Maston technical were rough. He wasn’t even a wildcard, he was just bad.
I should spend this space talking about Terry Maston, because he inhabited the space inside Osetkowski’s brain for the better part of 34 minutes tonight. O got worked by a guy with a basketball IQ at least as high as his and a game that might be (OK probably is) better than Osetkowski’s. Dylan spent the night at school.
The macro picture for Texas is not pretty right now; they only have one game left they’re favored to win (Oklahoma State in Austin) and they have road games against Oklahoma, Kansas, and Kansas State left on the schedule. We’re firmly on the wrong side of the bubble now, and the path into the NCAA Tournament involves either some unlikely road wins and/or a couple of wins in the conference tournament. It also involves rooting for some mid-major conferences to have chalk outcomes in their tournaments, as every unexpected conference tournament winner removes a bubble spot for Texas. So, yea, fun times. Texas’ next game is at a reeling Oklahoma squad’s house, tip is 11 AM CT on ESPN.
BWG’s writing tunes provided by Hatzler.